A DENNIS the menace-themed reading challenge at libraries across Swindon hopes to get kids to discover the joy of reading this summer.

The Summer Reading Challenge, which launched on Saturday, is organised every year by The Reading Agency to ensure kids’ reading doesn’t dip over the long summer holiday.

Children aged 4-11 can sign up to the challenge and get a free beano wallet to complete with smelly stickers and a black and red Dennis the Menace wristband.

Debbie Jackson, coordinator of the reading challenge at Swindon Central Library, told the Adver: “The scheme is encouraging children to develop a love of reading and a love of their library and the other twelve libraries around Swindon.

“I feel passionate about it because it’s really important children continue to read over the summer. It’s about encouraging children to read for pleasure and they can choose any book they like.

Around 80 volunteers have signed up with the library to register children onto the scheme. “We couldn’t do it without them,” added Debbie, “They’re amazing for doing this.”

As well as paperbacks children can choose audio books and e-magazines, with the Minecraft magazine and Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry already proving a hit so far.

Doris Wolfstencraft, from Broomhill, is volunteering at the library and took her three grandchildren to pick up reading supplies for the summer. “I think it’s a splendid idea, the little ones were waiting at the door this morning and rushed in when they opened.

“Children can spend a lot of time on computers but it’s very important they grow up reading fiction and non-fiction, they can learn a lot.”

Grandson Sam Read, 10, who picked up three books on Saturday, said: “I did it last year and I think it makes children read who don’t usually. I like how every story is different."

Younger brother Josh Read, aged 6, added: “It makes people to read books so they can enjoy different things, and I like it because the non-fiction books tell you lots of facts and the fiction books because they have lots of adventures.”

To complete it children must visit any library in Swindon and take out at least two books each visit and will get a special certificate and medal. After the launch on Saturday, the challenge will end on September 9.

More information can be found at www.mischief-makers.org.uk.